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A practical handbook

This handbook is intended for those wanting to use documentary filmmaking as a research method to explore subjects and also as a way of expressing ideas. Its focus is practical rather than technical, aiming to complement the many handbooks that already exist covering filmmaking, digital videography, sound recording and video editing. It concentrates on aspects of filmmaking for research purposes at an introductory level that are not so well documented elsewhere, such as the practical stages involved in the production of an ethnographic film. The underlying principal of this handbook is to broaden the application of ethnographic filmmaking to suit a wide range of research areas and documentary expression, encompassing sensory, fictive, observational, participatory, reflexive, performative and immersive modes of storytelling. I have chosen to avoid detailed discussion of technology as this dates quickly. This handbook aims to assist individuals in their personalised searches using online facilities to develop research methods and also teaching, by decoding technical terminology and explaining filmmaking workflows.

Films of the Sensory Ethnography Lab
Paul Henley

This chapter considers the work of the Sensory Ethnography Lab (SEL), established at Harvard University in 2006 and which has had a dramatic impact both inside and beyond the academy. Initially, the institutional context and the ideas informing the work of the SEL are described. This work is very diverse and constantly innovative, making generalisation perilous. But allowing for numerous possible exceptions, it is suggested that there are various continuities between their praxis and that of their institutional predecessor, Robert Gardner. These are particularly evident in the attention given to visual aesthetics and to sound editing, and in the generally high technical quality of their films. Also as in Gardner’s work, both language and concern for communicating what the subjects think or feel about the world are of secondary importance. There is typically even less interest in relating those beliefs or sentiments to social relations, politics or culture. It is argued that in these regards their work, collectively, is set upon a trajectory carrying them progressively away from the conception of ethnography on which this book is based. These propositions are then explored in relation to some of the best-known works produced by the SEL prior to 2015.

in Beyond observation
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Sound / image
Jonathan Bignell
Sarah Cardwell
, and
Lucy Fife Donaldson

1997 ), in which immediacy and simultaneity were considered properties of the medium. In drama, this has been exploited by choices such as rapid rhythms of image or sound editing that match the exciting forward movement of storytelling, or, conversely, by long sequences of unedited action and naturalistic styles of performance that give viewers access to the space and time that the characters inhabit. But what the viewer sees and hears is clearly happening elsewhere and elsewhen, combining television's lure of presence with audiovisual remediation's necessary

in Sound / image
Sylvie Magerstädt

of Pelias) and its attempt at modernising the narrative, for some it simply ‘retold the story of the 1963 film at twice the length and with less than half the charm’ (Richards, 2008: 170). Here, the show evidently did not take advantage of the opportunities provided by the serial format and merely extended the action rather than aiming for narrative complexity. In 2002, TNT got in on the act with its Julius Caesar (dir. Uli Edel), another two-part miniseries. The show received two Emmy nominations, for make-up and sound editing. It focused on Caesar’s early years

in TV antiquity
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Susan Hayward
Phil Powrie

devoted to the soundtrack. The 1980 Yale French Studies special issue on sound edited by Rick Altman was a key early work (about half of it dedicated to music), as was the work of the French theorist Michel Chion (whose foundational 1980s work has been translated by Claudia Gorbman; see Chion, 1994 and 1999 ). Scholarship in this area has expanded rapidly as specialists in musicology and Film Studies have explored it, and the

in The films of Luc Besson
Open Access (free)
Films of re-enactment in the post-war period
Paul Henley

credits, which always feature a long list of names related to sound editing. This took place, along with the picture editing, not at the NFB but in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the EDC was based. 4 In an aesthetic sense, the films are very low-key: the general style is one of muted observational realism. But this effect has been brought about by very skilful authoring. The framing and exposure is generally immaculate and there are no self-conscious manifestations of

in Beyond observation
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Andy Birtwistle

classical cinema was to confirm Soviet anxieties about the hegemonic power of theatrical and naturalistic modes of expression, the introduction of optical sound technology also opened up two new strands of sonic practice that were to have a profound influence on the soundscape of the twentieth century: the first of these was synthesis, the second was sound editing. The primary creative opportunity that sound editing affords

in Cinesonica
Rethinking art, media, and the audio-visual contract

There is no soundtrack is a specific yet expansive study of sound tactics deployed in experimental media art today. It analyses how audio and visual elements interact and produce meaning, drawing from works by contemporary media artists ranging from Chantal Akerman, to Nam June Paik, to Tanya Tagaq. It then links these analyses to discussions on silence, voice, noise, listening, the soundscape, and other key ideas in sound studies. In making these connections, the book argues that experimental media art – avant-garde film, video art, performance, installation, and hybrid forms – produces radical and new audio-visual relationships that challenge and destabilize the visually-dominated fields of art history, contemporary art criticism, cinema and media studies, and cultural studies as well as the larger area of the human sciences. This book directly addresses what sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne calls ‘visual hegemony’. It joins a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that is collectively sonifying the study of culture while defying the lack of diversity within the field by focusing on practitioners from transnational and diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the media artists discussed in this book are of interest to scholars and students who are exploring aurality in related disciplines including gender and feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies, environmental analysis, and architecture. As such, There Is No Soundtrack makes meaningful connections between previously disconnected bodies of scholarship to build new, more complex and reverberating frameworks for the study of art, media, and sound.

Abstract only
Andy Birtwistle

two parallel and related strands of sonic practice that were to have a profound influence on the soundscape of twentieth-c entury western art: the first of these was sound editing (dealt with in Chapter 6 ), the second, sound synthesis. As has already been demonstrated by the example of ground noise, film technology generates as well as reproduces sound. The sig-nificance of the conceptual shift from reproduction to

in Cinesonica
Abstract only
Catherine Constable

-en-scène, costume, performance, lighting, music, dialogue, sound, editing and cinematography. Indeed, it would seem that the swiftness with which we can grasp the significance of filmic figures leads to an underestimation of the work required to do so, what Robert Stam ably describes as ‘intense perceptual and conceptual labor – the work of iconic designation, visual deciphering, narrative inference and construction – inherent in [viewing] film.’62 It might be argued that the problems of Wartenberg’s model could be solved by replacing his meta-critical vocabulary of

in Adapting philosophy